What is the Difference Between Carmel and Caramel?

Caramel is a the term used to describe melted sugar that has a similar texture and consistency with toffee. However, some people say “carmel.” But what is the difference between carmel and caramel and do they mean the same or different things?

What is Carmel?

The term carmel is a proper noun that may refer to a place or a group of people. One of the most popular carmel is the Californian town Carmel where Clint Eastwood was once a mayor. Carmel is also a word mentioned in the Bible, which means God’s vineyard in English. It is not so uncommon to hear Mt. Carmel Church because of the religious connotation of the word.

What is Caramel?

While carmel is pronounced with just two syllables, as in car-mel, caramel has an emphasis on the extra a and is pronounced as ca-ra-mel.

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Caramel refers to the product of the process of heating sugar until it melts and becomes soft. Caramel takes a honey and brownish color which also refers to the very color of caramel. Caramel can be consumed all on its own, but it may also be used as ingredient for syrups, flans, brulees and other forms of sweet treats.

The color of caramel is produced to the concept of the Maillard reaction. This takes place when sugar is heated and liquefies upon reaching a certain temperature, specifically 245F degrees and the elements of sugar reacts with the proteins in the cream. This is also the very same reaction that gives nuts and barbecues their toasted and brownish colors.

How to Make Caramel

There are two ways to make caramel: the wet and dry method.

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For the wet method, sugar is melted along with some water. When the sugar melts, it combines with water, resulting to a sticky and brownish substance we now call the caramel.

On the other hand, you can also cook caramel through the dry method. You simply put sugar into a pan and wait for it to melt. Sugar already contains some water so it will inevitably melt upon reaching the point of caramelization. Also, cream, butter and other ingredients may be added to create caramel that’s specifically used for certain recipes. For instance, milk may be added to create caramel candy while the addition of nuts will result to praline.

Conclusion

The confusion between carmel and caramel is mostly just a matter of pronunciation. But if carmel or caramel is mentioned in the context of cooking, it most likely refers to melted or caramelized sugar.

In many places, carmel is an acceptable way of saying caramel and the omission of the vowel “a” does not make that much difference. However, if you’d like to be clear with what you mean and would like a candy instead of a religious group or Hebrew word, then it’s better to say caramel with an “a.”

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